Software and device adoption patterns have flipped and the purchasing audience has changed. The individual now has the decision making power, budget authority and basic tech savvy to trial and deploy devices and services personally and within their teams. In response to a now-comical Goldman Sachs CIO survey in 2008 that suggested companies would start to spend less on cloud computing, one industry observer dismissed the idea. Even then, he said, “CIOs are always the last to know.”
Understanding what users actually want and use is essential for an IT leader who wants to deliver on their financial, security and employee enablement duties. More software is spreading through companies in a “bottom-up” way – meaning, individual users are trialing, buying and determining what often sticks.
For IT, attempting to restrain decision making and vie for influence on what the enterprise uses is met with pushback, or worse – disregard. While a software may start as unofficial, quick prohibition of its use may not be the best for company. Having dozens, hundreds or even thousands of users means a wide research audience. These “test cases” can help forward-thinking IT leaders understand which software is making a meaningful difference in the business. Watching usage trends is indicative of a software’s value to users. If a service starts to progress within the business, IT should ask: what features or functions and application types are employees enjoying that are helping them do their jobs better? This is the ultimate aim of IT-led intervention, anyway.
Consider the growth of interoffice messaging applications. Quick, rapid exchanges are outpacing email in many corporate contexts. Software like Slack, or instant messaging service WhatsApp (which now has more than 1.5 billion users) have grown in popularity. Conventional ways of communicating are gone and the emergence of these apps better reflect how people want to connect. Usage is rising and individuals are enjoying the benefits of quick pings to keep productivity flowing. Project management applications like Trello and Basecamp or file sharing applications like Dropbox are others that straddle the business and personal use cases.
IT is right to express concern about corporate data being accessed and shared on insecure networks or easily hacked devices. But the rules have changed, IT needs to work on preserving user choice while creating effective policies for control.
Understandably, IT concern pushback often centers around security and cost. Cleanshelf helps IT leaders manage the bottom-up purchasing dynamic and address cost and security challenges by providing real time usage and deployment insight. IT can keep a pulse on what users are purchasing; effectively taking a wait-and-see approach. When a particular SaaS tool starts to build critical mass of users, it can step in and introduce support. It doesn’t need to kill the tool’s usage, but enable it in a compliant and secure way. IT can also help departmental leaders by offering to manage this tool in a top-down way. For an individual, team or department, this means better commercial terms, wider use among colleagues and richer integration with the company’s other critical applications.
What department leader doesn’t want to handover software management to IT knowing they can spend less, get more licenses for their team and benefit from integration with other software tools?
Additionally, by understanding the types of applications being brought into the organization, IT may learn what gaps exist in the more secure, enterprise sanctioned offerings and prioritize some additions to the corporate stack. Social, CRM, marketing automation and data visualization are all areas where employees are showing demand and may be finding their own solutions. In most of these cases, however, common enterprise software stacks have a great native option to be deployed.
CIO magazine references a survey suggesting that managers are less likely to take a job at a new company if they can’t use cloud-based apps and connect their personal devices to the new company’s enterprise systems. Further, one-third to two-thirds of the managers (the number is higher among younger managers) say that they’re likely to change jobs if their employer’s corporate software is too difficult to use.
SaaS has surged up through the ranks of enterprises, in many cases bypassing the traditional IT gatekeepers. But as industry-analyst firm RedMonk writes: “...before lamenting the fact that forces are disrupting and destabilizing your enterprise IT, consider that that may be a net gain. If the primary drivers of BYOD, Cloud, Open Source, and SaaS include ease of use, lower costs, frictionless availability, and speed of provisioning, are these trends worth opposing?”
The right tools in the right hands means a competitive advantage for a company. With Cleanshelf, IT can make this happen in a managed, secure and cost-efficient way.
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